Particularly since that dreadful day in September 2001, when nineteen Muslims hijacked commercial airliners and deliberately crashed them into buildings or the ground in history’s worst terrorist attack, killing almost three thousand people, Islam has become a much-discussed and distrusted religion. Despite the fact that over 1.6 billion Muslims live entirely peacefully alongside or amidst people of other faith and cultural communities, Islam has attracted more ideological opponents than other religions have. In terms of the antipathy towards Islam expressed by these people, only anti-Semites seem as antagonistic towards a world religion. This study is not an attack on Islam’s critics.
The author believes that people have the right to like or dislike any or all religions and, regardless of perceived taste, to express their views via peaceful discourse. Islam’s most bitter critics, on the other hand, should not be surprised when their views are challenged. Islam has extraordinarily positive features which its adherents, including this author, believe should be presented as a counterbalance to the claims of its critics. This study is not intended as an all-encompassing critique of Islam-hatred, nor even of its worst aspects. It is merely an attempt to build on the author’s previous work — which argues that the Qur’an is not inherently martial and has a clear ethical code governing and constraining the use of violence for political purposes — by analysing one particular associated claim seemingly endlessly made by Islam’s critics. They assert that, far from being a paragon of virtue, the Islamic prophet Muhammad was deceitful and, indeed, boasted of it in several sayings recalled by followers. “War”, they quote him saying, “is deceit”. They contextualise their criticism of Muhammad’s statement that “war is deceit” by arguing that his unashamed statement proves that he was personally dishonest whenever expedient and that Islam consequently tolerates dishonesty in a way that other religions do not.
This study rejects the view that, in the wars fought by Muhammad, he acted immorally through any acts of wanton personal dishonesty (“deceit”) that constitute severe character imperfections and stain his reputation as a holy man. It argues instead that, in his quest to defeat the forces within Arabia which sought to destroy his fledgling community, Muhammad used ruse and bluff, or strategic and tactical deception, as a reasonable, necessary and eminently legitimate means of gaining military advantage so as to minimise suffering on both sides. It argues that, if Muhammad is to be condemned for using ruses during warfare, then for consistency and fairness his critics must also consider earlier prophets including Moses, Joshua and David, and all of history’s greatest military leaders, including Washington, Wellington, Nelson, Lee, Churchill and Eisenhower, to have been morally corrupt merely because they also esteemed the advantages obtained through the use of ruse.
English Monograph Series — Book No. 24
Amman: Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre /
Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, 2017.
Prof. Joel Hayward's Books and Articles
Villa 6, Nashash Street, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Copyright © 2023 Prof. Joel Hayward's Books and Articles - All Rights Reserved. This website and the views expressed within it are not affiliated with the Cambridge Muslim College or any other organization.
Powered by GoDaddy